Eco-lodge Patrons in Sri Lanka A Comparison of Asian and Non-Asian Markets

H.D.P. Sumanapala, S.W. Kotagama, P.K.P. Perera, N.W.K. Galahitiyawe, D.A.C.S. Suranga


Tourists around the world have become more environmentally conscious, and the demand for
green holidays and green accommodation has experienced a rapid growth. In this
background, the form of accommodation known as “eco-lodges” have gained a huge
popularity, especially among those who are seeking environment friendly wilderness
experiences. Extensive studies on characterisation of visitors seeking accommodation in ecolodges
have been documented in the tourism literature. However, empirical studies conducted
on understanding attitudes, perceptions, preferences and characteristics of visitors staying in
eco-lodges in the Asian destinations are lacking. With Asian tourists gaining a greater share
of Sri Lanka‟s tourism market, a better understanding of such information on tourists is vital
in ecotourism planning and development.

This study aimed to develop and compare visitor profiles of Asian and non-Asian eco-lodge
patrons in Sri Lanka‟s eco-lodges. Visitors stayed one or multiple nights in 13 eco-lodges
comprised the sampling framework for the study. Out of 450 questionnaires, there were 362
valid responses which accounted for 69.0% response rate. Both Asian and non-Asian ecolodge
patrons were well-educated. However, they differed in terms of age (χ2=3.639,
p=0.048) with more that 50% of the non-Asian segment belonging to age groups over 35
years. In terms of trip characteristics, both groups showed fairly similar length-of-stays.
Non-Asian segment seems to prefer travelling with family, spouse or a partner (χ2=5.682,
p=0.021). Some key differences were observed between the two groups in terms of travel
motives and eco-lodge attributes that influenced their accommodation choice. Key
differences in demographic characteristics, attitudes, perceptions, and preferences between
the two visitor profiles are discussed along with implications for management.

Keywords: Eco-lodge patrons, Visitor profiles, Demographics, Attitudes, Perceptions

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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura